Union College, Schenectady NY, USA

This page will provide you with information about the different applications of detrital fission-track analysis, sample processing, our current research projects,  and recent publications. The Fission Track Lab home page is here.

1) Sample preparation and data handling
From rock to probability density plot, detrital fission-tack analysis is a complicated buisness.  The following  will help you with sample processing, zircon etching procedures, detrital zircon  FT counting and data analysis.

2) Detrital fission-track (FT) analysis

Detrital fission-track (FT) analysis is a powerful tool for a variety of different applications. It has been succesfully used for: provenance analysis, exhumation studies and fission-track stratigraphy. The advantage of detrital FT analysis in comparison to bedrock FT analysis is that it is not restricted to present day outcrops of bedrock. Detrital apatite and zircon are common in sediments of the foreland and hinterland basins of mountain belts and therefore suitable for studies of the long-term evolution of orogenesis.

[A] Provenance analysis
FT cooling ages in a detrital sample can be linked to specific thermotectonic source areas.  Recent studies, using detrital FT analysis as a provenance tool have been conducted all over the world.  Here are some recent examples of projects at Union and Yale.

Provenance of detrital zircon from the Rhone River Delta (France) determined by fission-track analysis (www summary)

Fission-track ages of detrital zircon constrain timing of collision, Kamchatka, Russia (www summary)

Practical consideration for using detrital zircon fission track thermochronology for provenance, exhumation studies, and dating sediments (extended abstract)

Detrital fission-track (FT) thermochronology applied to sedimentary provenance studies (abstract)

Fingerprinting of the tributaries to the Mississippi River using fission-track ages of detrital zircon (abstract)

[B] Exhumation studies

Currently, we are engaged in a number of studies aimed at understanding the long-term exhumation evolution of orogenic belts using detrital zircon FT analysis.  One primary focus is the evolution of the European Alps.  During the first stage of this project  the apporach was tested in a well constrained setting to see how well detrital samples reflect the bedrock FT cooling ages in a given drainage area. The same approach is applied to stratigraphically controlled samples from the Alpine foreland and hinterland. These include samples form the Northern Apennines (Marnoso-arenacea Fm and Cervarola Fm), and samples from the French and German foreland basin. The aim of the study is to determine the  evolutionary state of the European Alps and to see when and if they reached exhumational steady state.

Testing detrital fission-track analysis on  river sediments of the European Alps (extended abstract)

Exhumation history of the Pyrenees using detrital zircon thermochronology (abstract)

[C] Fission-track stratigraphy

Detrital zircon FT analysis can be used to estimate the minimum depositional age of stratigraphic sequences. This is only possible if volcanic activity occured during time of deposition and zircons from tuff layers can be dated. The zircon cooling age represents the depositional age, due to rapid cooling of the tuff layer.

Fission-track ages of detrital zircon constrain timing of collision, Kamchatka, Russia (www summary)


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© Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady N.Y. 12308-3107.

All rights reserved. No part of the document can be copied and/or redistributed,  electronically or otherwise, without written permission from:  J.I.Garver, Geology Department, Union College, Schenectady NY, 12308-2311, USA.

Last Revised:  3  January 2003

Some of this material is based upon work supported by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9614730. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.